MOBA Art Too Bad To Be Ignored
MOBA : The Portraiture Collection

The Athlete

The Athlete
Crayon and pencil on canvas by Unknown
Acquired from trash in Boston by Scott Wilson

A startling work, and one of the largest crayon on canvas pieces that most people can ever hope to see. The bulging leg muscles, the black shoes, the white socks, the pink toga, all help to make this one of the most popular pieces in the MOBA collection.

Additional Information
The Athlete entered MOBA's permanent collection sometime in the summer of 1994. From its first public showing, it quickly became one of MOBA's favorite paintings with the bad art loving public.

In March of 1995 the museum exhibited The Athlete on its new website. In June that same year the museum received an email message that was to shake the institution to its very core.

Read about the controversy below...

MOBA SCANDAL IN THE WORKS -- An astute visitor ( to the MOBA Web page has recently informed us that one of the prize pieces ("The Athlete") in the permanent collection may have in fact been created as intentionally bad art as a prop for the play "You Can't Take It With You". Mr Cbergstr reports "It's size is so it will show up on a stage; the medium (crayon on canvas) indicates it was a student production. The wing tips confirm the identification." Mr Cbergstr goes on to say "I don't know if this in any way invalidates the artistic achievement, but I though you ought to know".

"Ought to know" indeed. We can not thank you enough Mr Cbergstr for calling this alarming matter to our attention. We will in the coming week research the matter and contact Mr Wilson to hear his comments on this disturbing matter. We trust that our Esteemed Curator is well aware of these facts and has a reasonable explanation or else they are a pack of vicious lies and slanderous libel - but in any case we pledge to get to the bottom of the matter and report back promptly.

In A Related Development -- There appears to be a storm brewing in regards to a clear violation of one of MOBA's other longstanding acquisition policies. As first reported in last week's MOBA News - An alert Friend Of MOBA ( reported that "The Athlete", one of MOBA's most popular pieces, is in fact a prop for the play "You Can't Take It With You" and was in fact created as an intentional work of bad art.

Since then Mr Cbergstr's report has been corroborated by another Friend Of MOBA, Duane Campbell who wrote:

"Regretably I must concur on The Athlete. I directed You Can't Take It With You (by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman) three years ago. The painting is of the character Mr DePinna painted by the character Penelope Sycamore. In our stock room is a similiar painting, though blessedly unfinished.

Mr Campbell went on to say: "... could he have produced it himself, deposited it in a dumpster, and then arranged to have it 'discovered'? What do we know about this guy's integrity? God knows what a bad artist will do to have his art displayed - and there are no worse artists than curators."

When our Esteemed Curator was contacted about this matter, he said:

" I don't know what the big deal is. Everyone agrees that 'The Athlete' by any measure is truly a bad painting."

It was pointed out to Mr Wilson that the issue at hand was not his judgement - but his integrity in upholding the oft-stated acquisition criteria of this august institution.

Mr Wilson exploded in righteous indignation, uttered numerous imaginative expletives, and demanded to know if MOBA had hired him as a theater critic or a curator of bad art.

The entire matter has been referred to MOBA's Board Of Directors and MOBA will refrain from any further statements on the matter until after next weeks board meeting.

"The Athlete" Scandal -- The full MOBA board met this past Tuesday to deal with the allegations of malfeasance on the part of Mr Wilson. Some rather compelling evidence was presented which clearly demonstrated that museum policy had been violated. "The Athlete" a deliberate work of bad art had been unwittingly accepted into the permanent collection by Mr Wilson. In the midst of a rather acrimonious accounting of the facts of the case, Mr Wilson leapt from his chair and challenged anyone on the board to claim that "The Athlete" was anything other than bad art. "Have you seen it?, any of you? Do you have eyes in your head?"

When a board member pointed out that the quality of the work was not the issue, Mr. Wilson exclaimed in exasperation - "Exactly".

After much heated discussion and over Mr. Wilson's strenuous objections, the board voted unanimously to pardon Mr Wilson on the charge of malfeasance and to remove "The Athlete" from the permanent collection.

An account of the launch party of the MOBA Virtual Museum CD-ROm at Cybersmith in Cambridge, MA -- Other than some technical difficulties, the only serious blemish on an otherwise perfect evening was the trouble stirred up by some misguided ne'er-do-wells who stoked the embers of the recent "The Athlete" controversy in front of the national press. The recently formed and misnamed "Friends Of The Athlete" handed out badges to the crowd and spread misinformation to both The Friends Of MOBA and the press. We urge The Friends Of MOBA to resist this band of misguided misfit's misinformation and trust that the board of directors has acted in the interest of the institution in resolving this most embarassing of situations.


"The Athlete" Once And For All -- In the interest of defusing the destructive force stirred up by the Friends Of The Athlete, The MOBA News has decided to let them have their say and air their gripes in the hopes that we can all then put this embarrasment behind us and begin to move the museum forward in its mission.

Subj: forwarded: MOBA - SCHMOBA
From: (Lorraine Magrath)

All I can say is that I am outraged!!! The Athlete (or Crayon Man, as I prefer to call it) is one of my favorites in the collection. How can you remove it? I don't care why it was painted. Bad Art is Bad Art!

This is to notify you that I am hereby forming FOTA (Friends of The Athlete). And don't think I'm the only one who's upset.

-- Lorraine Magrath

Dear Ms Magrath,

We're most anxious to put this whole sordid "Athlete" scandal behind us. It has been a most embarrasing incident for the museum. The board believes that the removal of "The Athlete" from the collection is in the best interests of the institution and its standards.

I must admit though that our curator is in full agreement with you on the matter but was overruled by the board. I truly hope that we can resolve this matter promptly and quietly without resorting to something as devisive as FOTA (Friends Of The Athlete).

In the interest of reaching a consensus and resolving this issue promptly, amicably and constructively we will print the full text of your letter in The MOBA News.

Jerry Reilly
Executive Director, Museum Of Bad Art | All contents ©2004 The Museum Of Bad Art. All rights reserved. | Updated 03.15.2004 | Contact MOBA